Raymond Soltysek's Blog

The Scottish Writers Centre, SpeakEasy, 19/7/12

Posted in fiction, Poetry, Reading review by raymondsoltysek on July 20, 2012

J. David Simons

A really good reading event at The Scottish Writers’ Centre in the CCA last night.  Lots of Gaelic was on the bill; as I’ve said before, I don’t understand the language, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy listening to it.  Perhaps it’s the musicality of the rhythms, but I think readers in Gaelic are generally much more proficient that readers in English, with beautiful changes of pace and tone and register.  The Gaelic group run by Catriona Lexy Campbell – which seems to be thriving – has prepared work for this event on the theme of glass.  Campbell herself reads a gorgeous poem which is just as effective in English.  Other star performers are Maureen Macleod and, especially, Alison Lang, who reads a story about a grandfather with a love of Sherlock Holmes with real verve.  Lovely too to see some Gaelic drama in progress.

But the readers in English are great too.  Douglas Thompson, a novelist and prose writer, reads some poems themed on Glasgow weather just to prove he can write across genres; wish I could, I can’t write poetry to save myself.  He’s witty and perceptive and gets tons of laughs.

It’s always a pleasure to hear J. David Simons, a writer I respect and a thoroughly nice bloke.  His coming of age tale of typing lessons in 1919 Poland is really lovely, with pin sharp characterisation and beautiful detail, and it’s read with a gentle authority.  Of course, the novel I’ve been wrestling with for six years is set in the same time and place, and it’s always disheartening to hear other people do it better than me.  Such is life.

As for myself, I read an extract from “The Beauty that Brendan Sees”, a story which is due to be published in New York gay literary magazine “Chelsea Station” later this month.   I decided to try it without the crutch of a script tonight; I find I rarely refer to a script anyway, and it gets in the way, so, given I only had time for a five minute extract which was heavily edited from the original anyway, I thought I’d just stand there and tell the story.  Other than one moment when the neurons almost failed to connect, it all went pretty well, and I was surprised at how easy it was.  My shocking American accent didn’t seem to be too off-putting either, and it’s always nice to be able to say things like “She has nipples like coins of strawberry mousse” in public and not be slapped.

So it seemed to go well.  David Manderson – another great writer and good guy – reckons I should tour New York with it and become a gay icon.  Mmm… we’ll see…

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